WASHINGTON (AP) – A new threat assessment from U.S. counterterrorism analysts says that al-Qaida has used its safe haven along the Afghan-Pakistan border to restore its operating capabilities to a level unseen since the months before Sept. 11, 2001.
A counterterrorism official familiar with a five-page summary of the document – titled “Al-Qaida better positioned to strike the West” – called it a stark appraisal. The analysis will be part of a broader meeting at the White House on Thursday about an upcoming National Intelligence Estimate.
Down in the Engineering Sub-Basement at the White House, a voice barks from an intercom: “We need more power!” A man with a Scottish accent yells back: “Cap’n! The reality-distortion crystals are almost fused after that speech in Cleveland. I canna give ya no more power or the spin engines will IMPLODE!”
“Dammit, Scott! I need maximum spin, and I need it NOW.”
At his news conference Thursday, President Bush acknowledged the report’s existence and al-Qaida’s continuing threat to the United States. He said, however, that the report refers only to al-Qaida’s strength in 2001, not prior to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The group was at its strongest throughout most of that year, with well-established training camps in Afghanistan, recruitment networks and command structures.
Bush used the new threat assessment to show his administration’s policies are the right course.
“Because of the actions we’ve taken, al-Qaida is weaker today than they would have been,” he said. “They are still a threat. They are still dangerous. And that is why it is important that we succeed in Afghanistan and Iraq and anywhere else we find them.”
Yes, I suppose that in some sense, colossal failure does indicate why it is important to succeed. But as I recall, back in September of 2001, just about everyone in the civilized world agreed that success in dealing with those who had attacked us was a good thing. Even many who loathed you, Mr. Bush, and thought you’d stolen your office, agreed that we as a nation should succeed in defeating that threat, and supported you toward that goal.
So why is it, six years later, that what you have to show is a reiteration that they are dangerous?
Why is it, almost six years to the day after your infamously ignored daily briefing entitled “Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US”, you are being handed a document entitled “Al-Qaida better positioned to strike the West”?
We’ve now spent somewhere around a trillion dollars on our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. That’s a one followed by twelve zeroes. It’s a room full of a million boxes, and when you open each box, inside there is a million dollars!
And yet, six years and a trillion dollars later, the President himself will admit that “They are still a threat. They are still dangerous.” Does he say this in his resignation speech, shamefully acknowledging his failure, before being allowed to honorably retire behind closed doors with a revolver?
No! He does it in irrational defense of his own policies, and in the same breath asserts the importance of success!
Mr. Bush, we all agree about the need for success. That’s what you’re being paid to deliver, and why you were re-hired in 2004. Success against al Qaeda.
Where is it?